Sacred Heart of Jesus, by Pompeo Batoni, in the Church of the Gesù, Rome. LLOYDBALTAZAR/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/PUBLIC DOMAIN

Spiritual Life

Who is Jesus?

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Jesus asks his closest friends this very important question. He wants to know how the crowds are receiving and understanding his words and teachings. He is also implicitly challenging his companions to contemplate the same question for themselves.

They reply to his initial question by noting, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” It seems ironic that all the answers they report back to him point to a common belief that he is a powerful prophet who has come back to life.

Jesus’ question to his disciples opens the door for him to bring this same question closer to home. He looks squarely at Peter and asks him, “Who do you say that I am?” This is a pivotal moment in the life of Peter and in the life of the Church. It changes the trajectory of Peter’s life as well as the lives of the Twelve, who had answered the carpenter’s call to follow him. Peter testifies to the true identity of Jesus, and his answer emboldens them all to follow suit. He replies on behalf of them all: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Jesus is clearly moved by Peter’s answer. Joy fills his heart as he sees Peter becoming more confident in his own identity. Jesus acknowledges to all of them the source of Peter’s revelatory response: The Father has made it known to him. Peter and the Eleven had done nothing to gain this knowledge. Neither their towering intellects nor their own efforts ascertained this truth. It was pure gift, and the only response required is gratitude.

Jesus could have chosen anyone he wanted to help him build the Church. The choices he made did not follow human standards or logic. Jesus continues to choose ordinary people to do extraordinary things. He chooses them because of their littleness and weakness. Thus, all will know that it is God who is accomplishing great works through them because the one they follow is the Son of the Living God.

Take courage and follow him along the path of discipleship, and he will do great things through you.